"CoQ10 is an energy-producing nutrient and powerful antioxidant that helps nearly every portion of the body function optimally. Considering levels of CoQ10 decrease with age, supplementation is oftentimes crucial!"
-Article written by Ethan Wood, CPT & Registered Nutritionist
What is CoQ10?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a nutrient that occurs naturally in the body. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects your brain, heart and muscles.CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that protects your brain, heart and muscles.
It is mostly concentrated in the mitochondria, or the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell and is typically used for growth and maintenance1.
Levels of CoQ10 in your body decrease as you age. CoQ10 levels have also been found to be lower in people with certain conditions, such as heart disease, and in those who take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins .
CoQ10 is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in energy production within cells. It helps convert food into energy at the cellular level and is involved in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the primary source of energy for your body’s cells .
CoQ10 has been shown to have several health benefits, including reducing inflammation, improving heart health, and reducing the risk of some chronic diseases . However, more research is needed to determine the full extent of its benefits23.
Why Should I Take CoQ10?
While CoQ10 is produced naturally, concentrations of the compound decline with age. Due to this, it's recommended that older individuals increase their CoQ10 intake through diet or supplementation.
However, benefits of supplementation can be seen in younger populations as well.
Considering this compound improves energy production and safeguards cells against stress or damage, it can be reasonably assumed that increasing CoQ10 intake will be beneficial for a wide variety of goals or individuals4.
What Benefits Could Be Expected?
Due to CoQ10's ability to increase the production of ATP, our body's main energy source, and act as a powerful antioxidant, benefits may include:
Improving Heart (Cardiovascular) Function
CoQ10 supplements are potentially beneficial to people living with heart disease. In a long-term study, people living with moderate to severe heart failure who took daily CoQ10 supplements had a reduced risk — specifically 42% — of having their first major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE) 1.
CoQ10 might help prevent or treat certain heart conditions, as well as migraine headaches 2.
CoQ10 has been shown to improve symptoms of congestive heart failure. Although findings are mixed, CoQ10 might help reduce blood pressure .
Some research also suggests that when combined with other nutrients, CoQ10 might aid recovery in people who’ve had bypass and heart valve surgeries 2.
Improving Brain Function
CoQ10 is best known for increasing energy levels when taken as a supplement. It’s also a very potent antioxidant, which means it can help prevent tissue damage and inflammation. These combined effects improve overall brain health, as well as enhance cognitive function 5.
One study demonstrated that supplementation increased levels of CoQ10 in brain cells and had neuroprotective effects. This is useful to improve general cognition and may be an effective tool for conditions like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease; however, it is important to note that this study was performed in rats 5.
CoQ10 has been found to benefit people suffering from brain diseases, like Alzheimer’s or dementia, as well as ease muscle-pain, from the effects of Parkinson’s to migraine headaches 6.
Improving Lung Function
CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant to prevent oxidative damage. CoQ10 could reduce oxidative damage in the lungs, which may benefit respiratory conditions like asthma or COPD 4.
While CoQ10 is found in all tissues, the lungs contain the lowest amount of this compound. More research is needed to understand its benefits 4.
Improving Skin Appearance
CoQ10 supports the body’s ability to produce collagen and elastin. Adding CoQ10 to your skincare may allow your cells to better utilize other nutrients, leading to healthier skin overall 7.
Taking a dietary supplement containing CoQ10 over a period of 12 weeks was found to help reduce wrinkles, improve skin smoothness, and enhance skin firmness 8.
Research shows that CoQ10 is effective for skin health in both topical and ingestible forms. When used consistently over the course of at least a few months, CoQ10 can help minimize the appearance of wrinkles, promote cell renewal, and protect the skin from further damage 9.
CoQ10 helps to improve fertility and the functioning of our cells in two main ways. CoQ10 is a vital part of the electron transport chain, which is responsible for generating energy in our cells. When CoQ10 levels are higher, the electron transport chain works more quickly and efficiently to produce energy 10.
In women with a poor ovarian reserve, CoQ10 supplements improved ovarian response to stimulation and some embryological parameters 11.
Other studies have also shown when supplemented, CoQ10 may help balance out oocyte (immature egg) deficits leading to infertility 11.
Improving Exercise Performance
CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to improve aerobic power, anaerobic threshold, exercise performance, and/or recovery after exercise in trained athletes and untrained individuals 12.
CoQ10 supplementation may potentially benefit endurance athletes, helping to prolong exercise capacity, performance, and time to exhaustion 12.
CoQ10 has properties related to bioenergetic and antioxidant activity; thus, it is intimately involved in energy production and in the prevention of peroxidative damage to membrane phospholipids and of free radical-induced oxidation 13.
Reducing Risk of Cancer
CoQ10 has not been shown to be of value in treating cancer 14.
However, CoQ10 may reduce the risk of heart damage caused by one type of cancer chemotherapy drug 14.
CoQ10 also consists of an antioxidant property that protects the cells from harmful free radicals. Free radicals can cause damage to the DNA of a cell which is often linked to the cause of cancer.
CoQ10 protects the body from the harmful effects of free radicals; hence, reducing one’s risk of developing cancer 15.
CoQ10 has been shown to improve migraine symptoms when used alone or in combination with other nutrients such as magnesium and riboflavin 4.
It has also been found to ease headaches by reducing oxidative stress and free radical production, which may otherwise trigger migraines 16.
Are There Any Side Effects?
CoQ10 supplements appear to be safe and to produce few side effects when taken as directed.
Mild side effects might include digestive problems such as upper abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
How Should I Take CoQ10?
CoQ10 is a fat-soluble compound, meaning it requires fats to be absorbed by the body. Due to this, it's recommended to consume CoQ10 alongside a fat-containing meal in order to improve absorption and therefore effectiveness18.
CoQ10 supplements can be consumed at any point in the day, and should be regularly taken to see benefits.